A recent opinion poll of Arab countries (Egypt:, Jordan, Lebanon,
Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), questioned a sample of
3,850 individuals, and was done under the direction of American firm Zogby
International. Many of the responses will seem odd to Westerners, but not to
historians. The responses explain a lot of what has been going on in the
Islamic world, and why the most recent outbreak of Islamic terrorism is so
deadly and predictable.
the responses to some of the questions posed in the opinion survey.
asked which national leader, outside their own country, they most admired, the
most highly rated individuals were the leader of Hizbollah (Hassan Nasrallah),
the leader of France (Chirac), of Iran (Ahmadinijad) and Venezuela (Chavez).
The same four were named when people were asked, "which world leader (outside
your own country) you would prefer to rule over you and your family?" When
asked which world leaders they disliked the most, they responded with U.S.
president George Bush, Israeli leaders Sharon and Olmert, and prime minister
Tony Blair of Great Britain.
which nation they would prefer to see as the only world superpower, the
following nations were selected (in order of preference); France, China,
Pakistan, Germany, U.S. Russia, Britain. Egyptians, Lebanese and Moroccans
preferred France the most, while the United Arab Emirates preferred the United
States the most. When asked to name foreign countries that provided the most
freedom and democracy for their citizens, the nations getting the most
responses were; France, Germany, United States, and Britain. When asked which
foreign country they would most prefer living in, the top favorites were (in
order of preference); France, Germany, Britain, U.S., China, Pakistan,
asked which two nations were the biggest threat to them, the three most often
mentioned were Israel, the United States and (to a much lesser extent that the
first two) Iran. When asked what the United States could do that would most
improve their view of that country, the most frequent response was the establishment
of an independent Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders, with East
Jerusalem as its capital. When asked if they believed spreading democracy was
the major American goal in the Middle East, over two thirds said no. When asked
what the real American objectives in the Middle East were, the most popular
responses were; controlling oil, protecting Israel, weakening the Moslem world
and a desire to dominate the region. Over half believed that Democrats taking
control of Congress would not make any difference in U.S. policy (16 percent
thought it would).
respondents believe that the war in Iraq meant less peace and less democracy
for the region, and more terrorism. It was also felt that the Iraqi people were
worse off because of the war. Moreover, 61 percent believe Iran has the right
to have nuclear weapons, and 51 percent believe that Iran is trying to do just
that. With regard to last Summers war between Israel and Hizbollah, 61 percent
believe Hizbollah won. As a result, 68 percent have a better attitude towards
Hizbollah. While 23 percent believe that it's possible for there to be peace
between Israel and the Palestinians (with the establishment of an independent
Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its
capital), 38 percent believe Israel would never agree to this, and 29 percent
believe Israel should be destroyed no matter what.
terms of their primary personal identity, 45 percent consider themselves a
Moslem, 29 percent a citizen of their country, 20 percent an Arab, three
percent a citizen of the world and one percent a Christian. Over the last three
years, identity as a Moslem has increased, while " citizen of their
country" has declined. Along those lines, 39 percent believe the clergy
should have a greater say in how their country is run, and that 42 percent
believe that clergy play too little a role in running their country. With
regard to women, 38 percent believe women should always be allowed to work
outside the home, while eleven percent believe that never should be
half (54 percent) got most of their news from al Jazeera.
responses indicate that most Moslems seem themselves as Moslems first, and feel
that the non-Moslem world is out to get them. The intense hatred of Israel is
better understood if you keep in mind some key elements of Islamic history.
First, Islam is a very intolerant religion. Their scripture calls for anyone
who converts to another religion to be killed. Moreover, that particular rule
is regularly obeyed by Islamic conservatives, even if local civil law forbids
it. According to the Koran, other religions are only tolerated as long as the
infidels (non-Moslems) pay higher taxes, do not hold positions of authority in
the government, do not try to convert Moslems, and keep their own religious
activities low key. Note, for example, that in Saudi Arabia, non-Moslem houses
of worship are forbidden, as are public religious ceremonies for any other
have been persecuted and driven out of the Islamic world for centuries. The
percentage of Christians in the Middle East has been declining particularly
rapidly in the last century. Sure, the infidels "get along" with Moslems in the
Middle East, but they do so on Moslem terms. Another unique aspect of Islam is
the triumph of religious conservatives, and persecution of original thinkers
and innovators. This struggle between progressives and conservatives has been
going on for over a thousand years, and is a typical feature of most religions.
When Islam first appeared it was, in many ways, quite progressive for its time.
But seven hundred years later, the Europeans were undergoing a social and
intellectual renaissance, and the Islamic world was going in the other
direction. That is why, when Moslems talk about all the West owes the Islamic
world in terms of science, they must refer to events many centuries in the
past. It also explains why the Middle East has such high rates of illiteracy,
and such low rates of scientific and economic accomplishment. Israel shoves difference
that right into their faces. That's particularly painful because over a third
of the Israeli population are Middle Easterners, the descendents of Jews
expelled from Middle Eastern countries after Israel was founded in 1947. These
"Sephardi" Jews look like Arabs, often still speak Arabic, because their
families lived in Arab countries for thousands of years. Yet the Sephardim are
much better educated and economically successful than their Moslem cousins. So
is Israel as a whole. Many Arabs admit that Israel must go because it
embarrasses the Moslem world. The despots that run most Arab countries
encourage this concentrated hatred of Israel, and blaming of Israel for the
regions problems, as a way to deflect criticism of their own miserable misrule.
The whole "Israel is the biggest problem in the Middle East" issue is a scam,
to enable local tyrants to keep their people down, and many of the people are
starting to wise up.
is a growing "Arab Reform Movement" in the Middle East, that believes the problems
in the Arab world are internal, not external. The fact that an increasing
number of Arabs support this movement, and that governments are not trying to
exterminate it, is encouraging. But the reform movement is pushing against
centuries of conservatism, and opposition to the kinds of things that
Westerners take for granted. Meanwhile, Most Arabs still prefer to believe in
conspiracies and fantasies, rather than deal with the reality of their
situation. Now the opinion poll makes sense.